Tag Archive | business blogging

8 Google Tools To Rock Your Business Blog

A blog is a powerful way to grow your business online. A study by HubSpot showed that businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than those that do not have a blog. Blogging will help you build your brand online, enhance your trust and authority,  showcase your expertise, project your personality and attract more loyal customers. There are many online tools to help make your blogging more effective, and because Google dominates the Internet, what better place to start than by checking out this list of our favorite free Google tools to really rock your business blog.

(1) Google Alerts

Google Alerts is an indispensable tool for the business blogger. Automated messages are sent to your email account whenever Google indexes web content with your selected keywords or keyword phrases. You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.

How to use Google Alerts to rock your blog

  • Keep updated on emerging trends in your industry to provide the latest information for your readers.
  • Find new ideas for blog content.
  • Provide backlinks to your site by adding (relevant) comments to other blogs in your niche.
  • Track if your original content has been used on another website or blog without due attribution to you.
  • Discover new bloggers in your field and build your network of contacts.

Top Tip: Use Google Alerts to monitor who’s talking about you or your blog. This is important so you can respond to any criticism, customer complaints or thank someone for writing something positive about you.

(2) Google Reader 

Google Reader for iphone

The idea of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is  to consolidate content from across the internet in one place, making it easy for you to stay up to date with all the latest news relevant to you. It means you don’t have to trawl the internet to find relevant content, or clog up your inbox with email alerts. There are several options when it comes to choosing an effective RSS (Feed) Reader. We’ve opted for the Google Reader since Google effectively own the online search market. It is simple to get started – you don’t need to download anything – simply sign in using your Google account and you are ready to start adding subscriptions to your favorite sites.

How to use Google Reader to rock your blog

  • You’ve heard that content is king when it comes to blogging, so use your Google Reader to find new content and related  ideas  and industry news of interest to your readers.
  • Using Google Reader allows you to scroll through a number of posts a lot quicker than clicking individual links from a ‘favourites’ folder or search engine results, thus saving you time.  Articles can be starred within Google Reader to read later.
  • Use the keyboard shortcuts to save more time. Here is a full list for Google Reader
  • Finally, don’t forget to activate your own RSS feed on your blog and display it prominently so that others can subscribe to it (note: RSS feed is already incorporated into the WordPress platform, so there is no need for an additional  feed).

Top Tip: You can access Google Reader on the go – a great way to catch up on your daily commute.

(3)  Google Adwords 

Driving  targeted traffic to your blog is a key factor to its success. The best way to do this is to get your blog pages ranking highly on search engine results pages, by including targeted keywords (the words people use to search online) in your blog posts.  Keywords are important because by including relevant keywords, it will be easier for people to find your blog when searching online. The Google Adwords tool is designed to gauge the effectiveness of keywords for using the google adwords service, but it works equally well for determining keywords for your blog post.

How to use Google Adwords to rock your blog

  • Type in your keywords into the Google Adwords search tool.
  • Google will search to find the information related to these keywords.
  • You will be taken to a list showing the levels of estimated search traffic and competitiveness for your key words.
  • The higher the rating, the more pages there are online that use that keyword, so try to use keywords/phrases that have LOW ‘Competition’, and HIGH Monthly Searches.

Top Tip: Each time you write a blog post, use the Google Adwords tool to ensure your post is SEO optimized.

(4) Google Analytics  

Tracking the number of visitors to your blog, where they came from, how they got there, and what they read on your blog can provide you with important insight to help you grow your blog. While there are many tools available to monitor and track your incoming traffic, the most comprehensive and free tool is Google Analytics.

How to use Google Analytics to rock your blog

  • Measure blog traffic, bounce rate and page views with this tool.
  • Determine the average time spent on your blog by visitors.
  • Establish at which point visitors enter and exit your website.
  • Use it to gather information about your customers (geographical location, time on site, search engine trends, etc).
  • Monitor frequency of traffic from social networking sites and other websites.
  • Use it to discover which keywords from search engines are driving traffic to your blog – you can then make more strategic use of these keywords throughout your posts.
  • Find out which blog posts are most popular and choose to write more on these themes.

Top Tip: While it is easy to set up and start using this tool, be mindful that there is an art to correctly interpreting the data to suit your specific needs. Check out online articles on the topic for more information.

(5) Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search allows you to easily find what people are saying on any subject of your choice in the blogosphere. Because it is continually updated, you can be sure of the most accurate and up-to-date results from a variety of sources by subscribing either via email alert or by RSS.

How to use Google Blog Search to rock your blog

  • Type in what you’re looking for in the search box and you’ll see a list of related blogs.
  • You can filter these results for more relevance to your specific needs.
  • Use it to find more blogs in your niche to build your bloggers network.
  • Collect ideas for future blog posts.

Top Tip: Discover which topics are generating most interest in the blogosphere and comment on them or write about them on your own blog.

(6) Google Trends

Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

How to use Google Trends to rock your blog

  • Determine how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News.
  • Gather insights into the traffic and geographic visitation patterns of websites or keywords.
  • Use the Hot Searches functionality to discover what people are searching for on Google most recently.
  • With this insight you can write great content on your blog.

Top Tip: Hot Searches highlights searches that experience sudden surges in popularity, and updates that information hourly, so you can be right up to date with this information on your blog.

(7) Google Insights for Search

Google Insights for Search shows you what people are searching for, where they are searching and when, allowing you to spot global trends in your industry and capitalize on new business opportunities as they present themselves.

How to use Google Insights to rock your blog

  • Anticipate demand for your business so you can write posts based on the seasonal trends you can track with Google Insights.
  • Use it to create subtle advertising messages for your product or service on your blog by capitalizing on search tends geographically.
  • Identify which brands are doing best with the “Top Searches” and “Rising Searches” functionality.  You might discover some rising stars. Can you leverage this interest by stocking these products if you are a retailer and writing about them on your blog?

Top Tip: Google has some useful videos in YouTube that go into great detail about this tool.

(8) YouTube

We’ve included the Google owned YouTube in our list because it carries a lot of weight in Google’s search rankings (often appearing on the front page of Google). This being so, you really shouldn’t miss out on using YouTube to increase your audience,  drive traffic to your site, stand out in your niche, add personality to your blog and build your authority online.

How to use YouTube to rock your blog

  • Optimize your videos to be easily found by viewers by choosing good keywords using Google’s Adword Tool (see (3) above).
  • Place your keywords in the title, description, and tags of your video.
  • Check out the competition and see which keywords they have used.
  • Make your video short – viewers won’t stick around for long intros.
  • However, do brand your video by flashing your logo at the start and end of your video.
  • Add some music from a royalty free source like AudioJungle.
  • Customize your YouTube profile (channel) by including your logo, brief info on your company and the url to your blog.
  • Create Playlists to get more views on your channel.
  • Encourage viewers to embed your video on their site,  share on social networking sites and subscribe to your YouTube channel.
  • Invite viewers to check out your blog for more detailed information
  • Don’t do a hard sell by asking people to buy your products.
  • Plan your marketing funnel creatively for a better response.
  • Promote your videos by embedding them on your blog and sharing them on popular social networking sites.

Top Tip: If the thought of appearing on a video is too intimidating for you, consider the option of  uploading a slideshow or screen capture video.

So there you have it –  our favorite free Google tools to enhance your blogging effectiveness.  It is by no means the complete list of Google’s handy tools, and some of them may seem to overlap in functionality, but by playing around with them you will discover which ones best suit your business blogging needs.

Have you tried any of these Google tools in your business blogging? Can you add to this list?

Enter Your Business Blog in the Blog Awards

Is your business an SME or a corporate business? Do you blog for your business? Are you aware of the Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland event that is coming up soon?

There are two Best Business blog categories – one is Best Blog of an SME and is sponsored by Sage and the other is Best Corporate blog which is sponsored by Media Box.

Why should you nominate your blog for these awards?

  • It’s one way for people to find your blog and your business
  • Reaching the shortlist, longlist and/or the finals will certainly help with brand awareness and result in free publicity but so will having your blog published on the nominations list at the end of July.
  • Free publicity can include local and national mentions in the press and radio.
  • Having your work recognised and rewarded will give you such a buzz.
  • It will help you connect with other bloggers and businesses.
  • It helps you to assess your own blog and become focused on results and improvements.
  • Learn from other bloggers too.
  • There will be a great night out on 13th October!

So, don’t delay. It doesn’t matter whether you nominate your own blog or someone else does it for you but nominations close on 16th July so get to it – right here!

‘What Blogging Does For Greenside Up’ – Interview with Dee Sewell

I recently wrote a post showing how blogging had helped me to gain significant press coverage for my online shop, amongst other benefits and as there are so many business people  out there using  social media effectively to create more brand awareness and increase sales, I’ve decided to share some of them with you by means of interviews. First up is Dee Sewell of Greenside Up, Dee teaches people how to grow their own vegetables in gardens of any size – from containers to community gardens.

How long have you been blogging for Greenside Up?

I started blogging in June 2009 (about a week after we had broadband installed and a few weeks after I launched my business). Initially I used the Blogger platform as it was the first one I came across and was easy to get started.
                Why did you start blogging?
At the beginning it was to give my business some credibility. Nobody else was going out to teaching people how to grow vegetables in their own gardens so I had to ‘sell’ the idea. Anybody can say they know how to do something in adverts but through my blog potential customers could see that I was growing vegetables and cooking them for my friends and family.
 Can you provide examples of how your blog a) improved brand awareness and b) actually brought you definite business.
In a sense, blogging is now my main form of marketing. By linking it through facebook, twitter, pinterest, google & linkedIn people are aware of my brand and what I do. Because I update it regularly with topical subjects, when I’m teaching I can often point people to posts that I’ve written which would be too much to cover in a regular class. I’m also able to link relevant articles in monthly newsletters to customers – past and present – which helps with the customer care aspect of my business. Because customers feel looked after, they talk to their friends and make recommendations. Word of mouth is now my main source of work.

My monthly workshops at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens are as a result of my blog. I attended a very enjoyable open day there last year and spoke to the owners about the possibility of running a day course there. When I returned home I wrote a post about the open day which the owners read and enjoyed. I was delighted when they contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to run a series of courses. When the workshops were advertised and people were booking in they were asked how they found out about them. Some of the attendees mentioned they’d been following my blog and decided to attend the workshops because they enjoyed reading it and wanted to learn more.
Do you think your website would work as well without your blog (bearing in mind your excellent use of other social media platforms)?
No! As I mentioned I started blogging using the Blogger platform but also had a separate website which was managed by a third party. Because I didn’t have ‘control’ over my website I found myself updating the blog much more frequently. People found this confusing – they didn’t know the difference between my blog and website and I found I was duplicating things – I became confused so the public and search engines must have been even more so! My website page views were much less than my blog, probably because I wasn’t updating it as often.

Because of the confusion about a month ago I made the decision to switch from Blogger, ditch my old website and move to WordPress.org which would allow me to host a website with an integrated blog. Everything is now under the same ‘roof’ with no more confusion. I can make any changes I want to my website and because I blog on average twice a week, the search engines can see that my website is being updated on a regular basis. I’m thrilled with my new website and haven’t regretted changing over at all.
              Was the changeover easy?
Because I went to WordPress.org I needed help as it’s a bit more technical than I’m familiar with. The first few posts from 2009 didn’t transfer over, but apart from that the transition has been fairly smooth. My page views have only dipped slightly which indicates that the vast majority of my readers have found the blog’s new home and it’s still early days.
I know from reading your blog that you really enjoy writing it. What do you find the most enjoyable part of writing a blog?
You’re spot on Lorna – I love to write! At the beginning I wrote my blog even when I thought there was nobody reading it and I guess you could say it’s my main hobby now.

I like the fact that people try out the recipes I post (the courgette cake recipe has the most page views of all my posts and lots of people are discussing and trying out the latest Dandelion Honey recipe). It’s rewarding when you hear that that others find the posts useful. Today is a good example as I was able to tell a class about a recent post I’d written on dealing with Slugs organically and when I arrived home, found it had been a twitter topic too and could forward the link on there.
Lately I’ve become much more interested in the photography aspect of it too, trying to include more close ups and interesting photos. Lastly it helps to keep me on track and informed. Some of my topics need some serious research – for instance I was reading about genetically modified food for a couple of weeks before I wrote the GM post – so the blog helps to keep me informed and improves upon my own education.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to make to any business or personal bloggers starting out?
I’ve picked up some fabulous tips at the monthly KLCK meetings but the one I use religiously now is to write down any ideas for potential blog posts, however mad they might seem at the time. I have a list in my diary of future posts – I had two more ideas today and if I don’t write them down now I know that I’ll have forgotten them by the morning.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you have picked up some tips from Dee’s experiences of blogging for her business. Do check out Dee’s website and blog.  Do let us know if you have found blogging to be a useful tool in your business and if you would like to learn how to blog more effectively or even just get started, do ask a question in the comments or get in touch with Marie or I.

10 Ways Blogging is Better for Business than Facebook

We love this infographic by Patricia Redsicker on Social Media Today

Key Take-Away!

If you’re not blogging, you’re missing out on some important business benefits! In addition trying to build your own brand on someone else’s territory is always risky.

Why business blogging will be big in 2012

Phil Mershon writing for Social Media Examiner examines new research that shows blogging is definitely here to stay. There are some interesting stats in his article on the steady increase in blogs (nearly 3 million blogs per month according to  Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere Report) and the type of blogger categories they fall into.

Most interesting to us are the stats on business blogging and what it means for brands. Here are six key takeaways from the research:

  1. Most business bloggers post at least two to three times per week.
  2. A majority of bloggers have been at this for at least 2 years.
  3. Consumers are increasingly putting their trust in blogs versus traditional media.
  4. 65% of bloggers follow brands on social media and most bloggers write regularly about the brands they follow.
  5. This reflects a major shift in marketing for brands of all sizes. Brands must become friendly with bloggers and take advantage of the opportunity to foster mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers.
  6. Of all social media platforms, consumers trust information they receive through blogs more than Facebook or Twitter.

So, if blogging isn’t already part of your business plans for 2012, then perhaps it’s time to make it your New Year’s resolution. Start by reading Lorna’s article on the advantages of business blogging, subscribe to our regular tips on how to set up and maintain a successful blog for your business, and if you need any personal coaching or practical help and advice, we are here to help.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank you for subscribing to and reading the Write on Track blog over the past year; and also for connecting with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. We have enjoyed reading your comments, answering your questions, and helping you get on track with your  social media marketing. We look forward to keeping you on track in 2012 with lots more ideas, suggestions and tips to make the coming business year your best ever.

Lorna and Marie

How to drive more traffic to your website /blog

Do you use the keyword analysis tool before you write your blog posts? If not, you could be missing out on using keywords that your target audience are using to search for your type of business.

This tool is provided by Google and can also be used to gauge the effectiveness of keywords for using the google adwords service, however, I tend to use it for web copy and blog posts.  Using targetted keywords means that your blog or website will feature much better in the search results.

How do you use it? It is best to use your gmail account to sign in as it then suggests more keywords for you.

1. Type in a couple of single keywords or phrases pertaining to the service or the product you wish to focus on within your blog post.

2. Click on the relevant category.

3. Decide on the country that you wish to target by clicking on Advanced Options and Filters, click on the relevant country.

4. Click ‘search’.

5. Scroll down to see how the keyphrases you typed in are performing.  You will see the number of searches per month globally and within your chosen country.  You will also see whether the competition for your keyphrase is low, medium or high.  Underneath you will see a list of keyword ideas pertaining to your search along with indications of the numbers of searches for each one.

6.  It might sound like a bit of an oxymoron but ideally you want keywords that have low competition but high search numbers.

I hope you have found this useful. If you have any questions, do leave them in the comment box below, Lorna 🙂

Talking about ‘Blogging for Your Business’

I did a short talk on ‘blogging for your business’ at the recent National Women’s Enterprise Day conference and as it was videoed, I can now share it with you 🙂 Lorna

Top B2B Social Media Statistics

B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not

  1. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not. Source: Hubspot, State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, 2010
  2. 69% of B2B marketers are shifting their budgets toward social media. Source: MarketingSherpa, October 2010
  3. 41% of B2B companies are acquiring customers through Facebook. Source: Hubspot, State of Inbound Marketing Report, 2011
  4. 86% of B2B companies are using social media, compared to 82% of B2C companies. Source: White Horse, March 2010
  5. Social media helps B2B marketers improve search results. Source: BtoB Magazine, July 2010

11 tips for overcoming writer’s block

Why do most people procrastinate over starting a blog? Nervous that they won’t be able to keep up the consistency of regular blog posts? Worried they will suffer from writer’s blog? Afraid that no one will read it?  Feel they don’t have the time?

Today, I am going to tackle one of those fears – that of writer’s block and give you some tips on how to overcome it.  Whether you are writing the blog posts yourself, getting a member of staff to write them or employing a ghost blogger, you will have to sit down and come up with ideas for some topics that will form the basis for future blog posts.  Here’s how to ensure those ideas keep coming:

  1. An Idea pad or Mind Map – Keep a notebook or create an online mind map (see this post by Frank Bradley on mind mapping) and record all your ideas as they come to you. Most of them will become blog posts in the future.
  2. ŸBrainstorming – Brainstorm with members of your team, write down every idea no matter how wacky it sounds  as you can eliminate some later.
  3. ŸGoogle Alerts – As outlined in this previous post, set up a Google Alerts for keywords in your industry. This is a wonderful way to get articles delivered to your inbox which could provide ideas and statistics for future blog posts.
  4. ŸGuest posts – Once your blog has become established, you can ask other bloggers to write a guest blog for you ( ensure it is relevant to your theme).  I know of one very successful blogger who gets others to guest post while she is away on holiday.
  5. ŸInterviews – Include interviews of  people in your industry, be it an editor of a magazine, another business person, a member of staff.
  6. Let some personality in – Give people an insight into your business by letting them know what is going on in occasional blog posts, either as the focus of the post or as an aside.  Let readers know that they are reading about real people and they will be much more likely to engage, both by commenting and by doing business with you.
  7. ŸRead related material – If you find an inspiring blog post elsewhere, don’t plagiarise it but you can refer to it and quote from it as long as you provide the link to that blog.  However, you must add your own nugget of wisdom or your opinion within your own blog post.
  8. ŸRegular slots – If you are aiming to post two or three times a week, it can help to have a theme for one of the posts.  In my interior design blog, I usually include a ‘Wallpaper Wednesday’ post where I will showcase new wallpaper designs.  Other examples from other blogs include ‘Friday roundups’. ‘Monday morning cool tools’.  By doing this, you can write this blog post beforehand and schedule it for that day and it also means you don’t have to think of a topic, you just have to come up with the content..
  9. ŸGet some exercise – if you are walking or cycling and your mind is mulling over things aimlessly, you’ll be surprised how many ideas can come flooding in, so have a notebook or phone with you to jot them down.
  10. Keep it up – I have found that if I take a break from blogging, it can be difficult to ‘get back into it’, if the mind is accustomed to thinking about blogging regularly, the creative juices flow and will keep coming.
  11. ŸCommenting – Sometimes a reader’s comment will inspire another blog post so do encourage the conversations within your blog

Blogging will help your business, it is becoming an essential part of a business’s marketing strategy and has been proven to deliver results. If you have any other ideas for overcoming blogger’s block, do add it in the comments below.

Come along to the next KLCK meeting in Carlow on 12th September where Elaine Rogers will be delivering a talk on this very topic

More on KLCK and what it does for bloggers next week!

Get your business blogging right

We like what Chris Gmyr of Cheetah Builder has to say on the topic of business blogging. 

One of the most important factors to business blogging is developing a voice. Your blog should mimic what customers can expect if they email you or contact you over the phone. Think about how you want the “voice” of your business to sound: strictly professional, humorous and light, or a combination of the two.

Be personal. Regardless of the tone you choose for your business blog, make sure your blog sounds like it was written by a real person, not a “corporate entity”. The content should be relatable and approachable. The other side of this, however, is that while personable is important, you don’t want to get too personal. Avoid stories about your family, friends and life outside of the business, unless it really fits in with what you’re writing about that day. Even then, keep the personal stories to a minimum. Also, keep your opinions and beliefs about non-work related things to yourself.

Be clear and concise, and shy away from industry lingo (unless you will be defining it). Make your work as easy to understand as possible. Aim for an eighth grade reading level, and don’t use words that are more complicated than they need to be. For example, substitute ‘use’ for ‘usage’.

Your readers are your customers– treat them as such. Use the same level of courtesy and respect in your blog as you would in real life meetings. Respond to comments, address any issues that arrive in a professional manner, and show appreciation for their involvement on your site.

Most importantly, if you can’t keep up with regular blog posts, don’t start. Delegate the task to someone else, hire a professional writer, or even skip the blog altogether. Blogging is definitely one of the best ways to truly connect with your customers, but when you go weeks or even months between posts, it looks unprofessional. As you lose blog readers (due to the lack of posts), you’ll also start losing customers. It’s better to put your energy into an amazing website, and not tackle a blog if you don’t think you’ll be able to keep up with it.